WBEZ | Brecht http://www.wbez.org/tags/brecht Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Shaw and Brecht Even Shaw- and Brecht-Haters Will Enjoy, Plus An Alice Childress Revival http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-01/shaw-and-brecht-even-shaw-and-brecht-haters-will-enjoy-plus-alice <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6959_ChalkCircle-scr.JPG" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><u><em>Florence</em> and <em>Wine in the Wilderness</em>, <a href="http://etacreativearts.org">eta Creative Arts</a>, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. in Grand Crossing, 773-752-3955;&nbsp; through March 3.</u><br /><br />Alice Childress, author of the novel <em>A Hero Ain&rsquo;t Nothin&rsquo; but a Sandwich</em> and the first woman to win an Obie Award, was also the first African American woman to have a play professionally produced.&nbsp; That play, <em>Florence</em> (1949) is the curtain-raiser of this evening of her work, and while it receives a fine production anchored by the delicate performance of Kona N. Burks, it&rsquo;s the second piece&mdash;written twenty years later&mdash;that&rsquo;s the real find.&nbsp; <em>Wine in the Wilderness</em>, set in the chaos of the late 60s, shows a black man coming painfully to terms with the idea that he doesn&rsquo;t get to define black womanhood.&nbsp; Under Mignon McPherson Stewart&rsquo;s capable direction, Mark Howard and Alicia Ivy White conduct a romance that&rsquo;s as sweet as it is unconventional.<br /><br /><u><em>Pygmalion</em>, <a href="http://stagelefttheatre.com">Stage Left</a> and <a href="http://BoHoTheatre.com">BoHo Theatre</a> at Theatre Wit, 1229 West Belmont Ave. in Lakeview, 773-975-8150; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 10; tickets $20-$25</u><br /><br />George Bernard Shaw&rsquo;s most familiar play turns out to be not so familiar after all as Vance Smith directs it at the speed of light, with no time for the audience to get restive. Shaw&rsquo;s complex ideas about identity, class and gender are spouted rapid-fire as if they were part of normal conversation rather than material for the lecture hall.&nbsp; This leaves us free to invest ourselves in the proto-love affair between Professor Henry Higgins (Steve O&rsquo;Connell, adorable enough to avoid invidious comparisons with Leslie Howard and/or Rex Harrison) and the Cockney flower-girl Eliza Doolittle (the extraordinary Mouzam Makkar).&nbsp; The result is a bit like standing under a volcano of ideas sharing an umbrella with terrifically interesting commentators (especially Mark Pracht&rsquo;s Alfred Doolittle, avatar of the &lsquo;undeserving poor&rsquo;).&nbsp; Theresa Ham&rsquo;s costume designs could put <em>Downton Abbey</em> to shame.<br /><br /><u><em>The Caucasian Chalk Circle</em>, <a href="http://prometheantheatre.org/">Promethean Theatre Ensemble</a> at City Lit Theater, 1020 West Bryn Mawr in Edgewater, 800-836-3006; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 9; tickets $20 at <a href="http://brownpapertickets.com/">brownpapertickets.com</a></u></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Jon Stewart once created a spectrum of comedy that ran from &ldquo;Pants-Wetting&rdquo; down to &ldquo;Brechtian;&rdquo; and Brecht is indeed generally less funny than trying.&nbsp; This production, though, is funny and moving in equal measure, as expertly performed by a company of 15 actors.&nbsp; Not only do they handle Brecht&rsquo;s dry wit with fluency, they play instruments and sing Matt Kahler&rsquo;s gorgeous original music with flair.&nbsp; (Kahler&rsquo;s arrangements enlivened Gilbert &amp; Sullivan for the Hypocrites, but even if you saw <em>Penzance</em> or <em>Mikado</em> you&rsquo;ll be amazed by his composition skills.) The text of Caucasian is classic Brecht: we&rsquo;re at war, the world is run by cretins, and no good deed goes unpunished. Yet director Ed Rutherford enables us to care about Grusha (Sara Gorsky, with a voice to match her strong acting chops) and the child she adopts--even though the child is actually and obviously a doll.&nbsp; Brecht, who worked to alienate the audience, might be horrified&ndash;-but for the rest of us, a Brecht play about real people with real feelings is a joy to behold.</div></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-01/shaw-and-brecht-even-shaw-and-brecht-haters-will-enjoy-plus-alice Don't-Miss List March 22-28: Irish theater, war stories http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-22/dont-miss-list-march-22-28-irish-theater-war-stories-97507 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-21/Light in the Piazza_Theo Ubique.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/Light in the Piazza_Theo Ubique.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 473px;" title="Theo Ubique's 'A Light in the Piazza.' (Courtesy of Theo Ubique/Adam Veness)"></p><p><strong>Dueling Critics on <em>Eight Forty-Eight,</em> WBEZ 91.5 FM and streaming live at wbez.org<br> Friday, March 23, 9 to 10 a.m., FREE</strong></p><p>First, of course, don't miss Jonathan and me as we duel over <a href="http://theoubique.org/">Theo Ubique's <em>The Light in the Piazza</em></a>, a musical (or is it an opera?) set in Italy after the Second World War that asks the following musical question: Can a girl from Winston-Salem who's been kicked in the head by a pony find love with a boy from Florence whose parents run a tie shop? (No, I'm not making this up.)</p><p>With a score by composer-lyricist Adam Guettel, whose <em>Floyd Collins</em> was equally unconventional and showed him to be a major new talent, and a book by Craig Lucas whose <em>Prelude to a Kiss</em> is one of the most romantic plays of the past couple of decades,<span style="font-style: italic;"> </span><em>Piazza </em>offers us plenty to talk about. We're on the radio Friday morning, and if you happen to miss the live segment you'll find it <a href="http://wbez.org/848">here on the site</a>.</p><p><a href="http://seanachai.org/"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-22/A Moon Misbegotten_Senachai Theater_Jackie Jasperson.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 267px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Brad Armacost and Carolyn Klein star in 'A Moon from the Misbegotten.' (Seanachai Theatre Company/Jackie Jasperson)"></a><strong><a href="http://seanachai.org/"><em>A Moon for the Misbegotten</em> at Seanachai Theatre Company</a><br> March 23-April 29, Irish American Heritage Center, tickets $24-$28</strong></p><p>What's so great about Seanachai is that it's transcended the default setting of Irish theater, namely, works about The Troubles. It certainly does work of that kind, like last year's spectacular <em>Shadow of a Gunman</em>; but it also does work from the Irish-American canon, and that's what's on tap beginning Friday night. Eugene O'Neill's <em>A Moon for the Misbegotten</em> is even more romantic than <em>Prelude</em> . . . (see above) and has all the richness of his best work without the egregious length of the magisterial <em>Iceman</em> and <em>Long Day's Journey.</em> This production features Steve Pickering as the tortured Jim Tyrone, and that would be reason enough to see the show even if the company weren't so reliably excellent.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.propthtr.org/"><em>". . . drumming in the night"</em> at Prop Thtr</a><br> March 23-April 29, 3502 N. Elston, tickets $15</strong></p><p>Prop Thtr offers its own take on the current craze for work about World War I (<em>War Horse, Downton Abbey</em>, the soon-to-be-released <em>Birdsong</em>) in Bertolt Brecht's first produced play <em>". . . drumming in the night."</em>&nbsp; The company uses a new translation of this tale of a German soldier trying to reconstruct his life and reconnect with his love in defeated postwar Berlin. Brecht was one of the leading critics of the Nazi regime during its rise; look to this early piece to see how the First World War gave birth to the Second.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 22 Mar 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-22/dont-miss-list-march-22-28-irish-theater-war-stories-97507 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater news 4/15 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-15/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-415-85234 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-15/poster_dirtyblonde_large.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="375" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-15/poster_dirtyblonde_large.jpg" title="" width="255"></p><p>1. <a href="http://www.bohotheatre.com/"><em>Dirty Blonde</em></a> at Theater Wit celebrates the legendary Mae West, and is playing all weekend. But if you can handle some delayed gratification, next Thursday's performance will be even more enlightening:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.filmspotting.net/" style="color: rgb(0, 98, 160); text-decoration: underline;">Matty Robinson</a>,&nbsp;host of the podcast&nbsp;<em>Filmspotting </em>(which just so happens to air on WBEZ), will be speaking beforehand about Mae West and her legacy in Hollywood.</p><p>2. There have been so many Brecht chalk circles in Chicago lately it's like he's having his own mini-renaissance; <a href="http://www.theatremir.com/ccc.html"><em>The Caucasian Chalk Circle</em></a>, which just ended its run, and now <em><a href="http://www.statetheatrechicago.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=101&amp;Itemid=78">The Voodoo Chalk Circle</a>&nbsp;</em>which is in it's second week. Have Brecht-off and see them both. The circle will not be unbroken...or something like that.</p><p>3.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.roosevelt.edu/Event_Details.aspx?ccpaid=124666"><em>The Best Little Whorehouse in Texa</em></a>s, seen last year at the Circle Theater, is being taken on bycollege kids, who I'm sure swear that they didn't do any outside research to get ready for their performances. It runs through this weekend and is sure to be particularly zesty.</p><p>4. An updated take on your favorite guilty pleasure musical <em>Mamma Mia!</em> will be performed at the Gorilla Tango Theater this Sunday, but this time it's called&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.vocalo.org/blogs/archive/201104/come-see-madre-mia-sketch-comedy-show-gorilla-tango-theater">Madre Mia!</a>&nbsp;</em>and seems to involve some men dressing in drag. Be warned: if you're looking for Meryl Streep, you will be very sad.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="237" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-15/Jordan%2C%20Jesse%2C%20Go%21%20with%20special%20guests%20My%20Brother%2C%20My%20Brother%20%26%20Me.jpg" title="" width="623"></p><p>5. Comedy duo Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris of the podcast&nbsp;<em>Jordan, Jesse, Go!</em> specialize in all that is being twentysomething, so if you are twentysomething and want to feel understood, or you want to understand the twentysomething in your life, go by Second City on Sunday. They're usually all distant from you, their tinny voices echoing on your iPod, but you'll be able to see them live and in the flesh now, so take advantage. You'll remember Jesse <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-13/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-413-85129">as the guy</a> that hosted <em>The Sound of Young America</em>&nbsp;(also at Second City), this past Wednesday. This show will also feature brothers Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy and their "advicecast" called <a href="http://mbmbam.wordpress.com/about/"><em>My Brother, My Brother, &amp; Me</em></a>. Don't waste your night watching HBO -- get some advice!</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org?subject=Morning%20Rehearsal%20Email">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2011 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-15/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-415-85234